December 4, 1878: Sam Hope
By the time he was nearly 29 years old, there didn't seem to be much MLB hope for Sam Hope, who was born in Brooklyn, New York on this day 141 years ago. His professional baseball career had been long and meandering by August of 1907. He had been listed on the roster of the New Haven Blues of the Class-D Connecticut State League in 1902 and 1903, but never registered an appearance.
After taking 1904 off, he split time between the Paterson Intruders and the Pittsfield Hillies of the Class-C Hudson River League in 1905. Again, he did not register any stats with either team. In 1906, he did bat .189 in 90 at bats for Paterson, but didn't touch the mound. Later that same year, he went to Cuba to play for Almendares of the three-team Cuban General League. In just one appearance with the Almendares, he pitched three innings, walked five and allowed two earned runs. He also struck out three and hit a batter.
That showing in Cuba hardly won him any recognition, but in a pinch in August of the next season, he was signed by the Philadelphia Athletics, who seemed to need some temporary bullpen help. After the A's had defeated the Cleveland Naps in the first game of a doubleheader, they called upon Hope to take the ball out of the bullpen in Game 2 of the double dip. Facing two future Hall of Famers in the Naps' lineup including Nap himself, player-coach Nap Lajoie, and Elmer Flick, the 28-year-old Hope struggled.
He faced four batters, gave up three hits, recorded just one out and let up an unearned run. Thus, when he was swiftly removed from the game, he exited with a career 0.00 ERA and 9.00 WHIP (still more than a century from becoming a stat at the time). Those on hand at Columbia Park in Philly that day didn't even know they had gotten to see a man's MLB career begin and end in the course of a few minutes.
As he walked off the mound, it seemed likely it would be Hope's last big-league appearance. He didn't return to the mound for the A's that season. He went to play for Newark in the non-affiliated Atlantic League for the remainder of the season, but again registered no stats. Hope then spent the 1908 and 1909 seasons with the Binghamton Bingoes where he didn't register an appearance until his second year with the club. His 21 appearances that year would be his last in organized baseball for several years.
Randomly, he popped back up with the Class-D Newburgh Hilltoppers where he made 41 combined appearances and went 18-14 overall. Then aged 35 and having spent nine years of his life in professional baseball, he called it quits. Still, that one appearance with the Athletics on August 5 marked the peak of his baseball career, a few fleeting moments that provided a lifetime of memories.